Sale Sharks HITZ Employability learner has won a 2021 HITZ Hero award.

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Sharks Community Trust run a number of education programmes which offer qualifications and employability support to young people enabling them to achieve their next step onto the employment ladder.  Sale Sharks HITZ programme is Premiership Rugby’s award-winning education and employability programme that has had great success with 16-18 year olds in Sale, Trafford.

Unemployment for young people has increased by 11% since the start of the Covid pandemic and by the end of last year there were an estimated 800,000 16-24yr olds in the UK classified as NEET (not in employment, education or training).

The HITZ programme encourages young people to believe in themselves, to gain skills needed for the world of work and to achieve their newly gained qualifications.  In addition to the education elements, where young people improve their English and Maths and undertake a Level 2 employability qualification, participants also take part in a variety of work preparation.  In September 2020, HITZ moved to a new home at Sale West Community Centre, which has seen an increase in participation by 150%.  Learners complete volunteer placements with local food bank, Bread and Butter Thing as well as with Sale FC Rugby Club.

During 2020, Sale Sharks HITZ worked with over 30 learners, helping them to improve motivation, self-confidence, attendance and engagement to help them move forward along a successful pathway progression into education, employment or training. The programme was able to remain open during the lockdown restrictions imposed in March 2020 by moving to online learning and delivering resources to learners’ homes when there was no digital technology available.

HITZ Hero, Jayden Thompson from Sharks Community Trust HITZ programme has been named as one of six outstanding young individuals who have been named as a 2021 HITZ Hero by Premiership Rugby, in recognition of his achievements despite the challenges of lockdown.

Jayden joined the HITZ programme at Sale Sharks Rugby Club in September 2020 at a time when he was looking for a sense of belonging and support to achieve a career pathway. Jayden left school aged 14 and after an unsuccessful period of home schooling he finished school in Year 9 with no GCSEs.  Jayden quickly became a leader within the HITZ group and embraced all opportunities for work experience. He volunteered for local community projects, including the LifeChurch Project where he was part of a team that provided 120 Christmas Dinners for vulnerable people within the Sale community. He also worked with The Bread and Butter Thing where he made food parcels and served meals to vulnerable people.

Jon Travena Sharks Community Trust HITZ Tutor nominated Jayden for a HITZ Hero award in recognition of the barriers he has overcome and the progress he has made.  “Jayden hasn’t had the easiest start in life, but where he is now is something to be incredibly proud of. He is passionate about the work he is doing with his community as he believes it is important to give back, and academically he is progressing well. He’s on track to leave the programme with a Level 2 Employability qualification alongside Functional Skills English and Maths.  He now has his sights set on a job in construction and has recently had an interview with the Salford College apprenticeship scheme. Jayden deserves this recognition and I’m looking forward to seeing how his future career in construction develops.”

Wayne Morris, Community and Corporate Social Responsibility Director at Premiership Rugby said, “Jayden is a shining example of how determination coupled with the right support and opportunity can go a long way to changing lives for the better. He has achieved so much in such a short space of time and his commitment to his family and his local community is commendable.  Pausing the delivery of HITZ during the pandemic was never an option for us.  With the help of our partner clubs like Sale Sharks we have continued to provide much needed support for young people like Jayden at a time when it is needed more than ever.”

Sale Sharks HITZ is always looking for new learners who want to take a big step towards success and employment.  If you would like to ask about a space on the HITZ programme at Sale West email

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